A lot of people perceive premium design as synonymous with high prices. But that’s a concept we flat-out reject. Why should a chair made with quality materials and thoughtful craftsmanship only be available to a certain set of customers?
It’s a question that’s driven our company since 1947, when the first HON office furniture was released. And it still does today. We use our expertise in industrial design, product modeling and scalable production to create modern, quality office furniture that’s available for everyone—not just huge corporations with limitless budgets.
For 75 years, we’ve advocated for a design process focused on efficiency and scalability—a process we continue to refine to deliver premium chairs with proven ergonomic design at affordable prices. Today, our designs encourage organizations everywhere to provide the workplace amenities their employees expect while fostering productivity, focus, and collaboration. Here’s how we do it.
Speed and Scalability
One manufacturing approach that has played a key role is blow molding, which helps us produce more chairs quicker and serve customers that may need more than just a few chairs at a time.
“It’s about being efficient and being able to produce a lot of chairs quickly,” says HON Senior Industrial Designer Dave Mehaffey. “[By the late 1980s], HON had become known as the most efficient producer in the industry, while continuing to make high-quality chairs.”
And efficiency benefits customers beyond just the price. In a nutshell, it’s all about lead time. We’ve been able to take what was once a custom-order situation and continue to scale. Rather than waiting weeks or months for a comfortable chair, we expedite the process considerably.
Featured Product: Cofi™
Craftsmanship and Customer Needs
Good design doesn’t happen without an understanding of the customer’s needs, and then, executing on them.
The market has changed over time, and so has our approach to ideating, developing and manufacturing products. For example, our prototyping process began in the 1950s with wooden sculpting pieces, which led to the W executive chair, one of the first HON chairs ever made.
As customer needs have evolved, we’ve pushed forward and evolved the HON executive chair with the end user in mind. With the Cofi™ Executive Chair in particular, we took a holistic look at what features and customization options truly matter to customers and prototyped a product that directly responds to those must-haves.
Featured Product: Ignition®
Market Analysis and Selectivity
We know it’s so much more than “just a chair.” It’s a personal experience that sets the tone for your work day. “There’s been a general transformation of the market, and HON has responded to that,” says John Koch, HON’s Vice President of Product Management & Development. “Customers are using chairs in broader applications, and they want more choice in those applications. We’ve continued to stay on-trend with what customers are looking for, and respond with design and product development.”
Sometimes that means studying the competition. We examined one chair popularly positioned as “higher end”—and the price point certainly coincided. The number of features was almost overwhelming; through research and user outreach, we knew customers wanted a chair with the right number of features. That’s where insights and selectivity come in. Knowing what adds real value, versus perceived.
If you’ve ever sat in a premium chair that has complicated adjustments, levers and other gimmicks, you know what we’re getting at. A chair can become too busy, which is the opposite of user-friendly—and affordable.
Featured Products: Abound® and Ignition®
Design and Prototyping
We use 3D prototyping technology to make modeling (and, in turn, production) even more efficient. With renowned designers and advanced prototyping capabilities, we were able to distill all the “futzing” of the above high-end chair into one that’s become one of our best-selling products, ever: Ignition®. Its combination of premium features and price accessibility has made it a customer favorite for years.
“Other competitors have done innovative things, but in terms of delivering a great product for the masses that’s accessible—cost and design and value—that’s what I’m most proud of,” Koch says. “We’ve brought a great ergonomic product to the market at an accessible price point.”